I put a bucket out on our back porch the other day. I really didn’t expect to catch anything, most of the critters around here are too smart to just jump in a bucket for no particular reason. I didn’t even put food in it because I didn’t want to attract the wrong crowd, namely the insects that forage for an easy meal wherever they can find it. So imagine my surprise when, right under my very nose, I caught a cat! She jumped right in as if she owned the darn thing and proceeded to investigate her new home. It was to her liking for a while although she took offense at having her picture taken multiple times. I had to take them as I wasn’t sure anyone would believe me that I caught her. She eventually vacated the premises when I tried to carry the bucket to the garage to show my husband what I caught. Evidently the bucket was fine when it was stationary but she didn’t like the fact that it was transportable. After she jumped out she gave me one last scornful look and went to find a chair to have a nap in. I left the bucket out to see if I could catch anything else. I doubt it.
The fruit trees signal that it’s picking time. R and I ride the ATV around to the different trees and start pulling off the apples and pears. I notice that R is throwing more of them into the field than I am.
-They have holes, he says. They were eaten by something.
I let him throw away to his hearts content. After all, there are plenty of apples and pears, more than we can possibly eat. We will be donating to the local food bank again…this was a good year for our little orchard. All of our trees are “organic” not because we believe in it (we do) but because we are basically lazy. It takes work and an organized mind to keep fruit trees sprayed on time. And I have an aversion to spraying poison on things. So If R finds some half eaten apples and wants to throw them out for the deer, that’s fine with me.
When we get back to the house I begin to pull out the apples and pears that I want to keep to make applesauce and pear tarts. Our older trees were planted before the advent of some of the tastier, sweeter apples and they tend to be great for applesauce but not much else.
-Wait, R says, that one has a hole in it.
I squint at the apple and see a place where a small bug had enjoyed the apple.
-Really? I ask. This is a perfectly good apple. I mean I know it’s not what you would find in the supermarket but it will make great applesauce. I will cut out the part where the bug noshed on it. You know, sometimes the ones that are gnarly looking actually taste better.
Now, you should know that I grew up in the country and my husband, well, his idea of trees are the ones that are sticking out of the concrete in the sidewalk. Despite having lived in this house on our little “farm” (I use this term loosely) for eight years, he still is uncomfortable being out of doors unless he is washing his car or has a golf club in his hands or mowing the lawn. Bugs of all varieties are the bane of his existence and he much prefers air-conditioning to heat. I have been slowly kicking him of the AC habit since we moved here because our house was built in the 1880’s when cross breezes were obligatory and the trees outside were planted for shade, not beauty. (They achieve both, but that’s another post.) FYI, I am also perfectly happy turning on the AC when it’s stinky hot.
R’s discomfort spreads to eating fruit and vegetables that come directly from the garden. He has this idea that what he buys in the market is safer and better…no bugs, seen and unseen, reside on the carefully picked and displayed apples and pears that he chooses in the produce aisle. I am really trying hard to teach him that it’s not all about the look, it really has to do with the taste and a tomato eaten off the vine is sooooooo much more amazing than the tomato that came from, uh, well, I’m not sure where it came from.
So R’s education continues. I don’t think he will ever be totally comfortable in the great outdoors, but on the flip side, I’d never be totally comfortable having to be indoors all day. I’m already mourning the loss of the days when I can sit on the hillside and throw the ball for Lucy. But for now, I will just go down and check out the applesauce. He might even eat some of it.
I have actually seen a monarch flying around my garden. Today I stopped Max from jumping up to get it.Yesterday, while picking tomatoes at my friend Melinda’s house, we came upon a Monarch caterpillar which made us both squeal with excitement.
I have been doing some research on aphids and came across this fabulous website: http://monarchbutterflygarden.net. If you are interested in going the extra mile on creating habitats for monarch butterflies, check it out. Tony has a huge amount of information on taking care of milkweed (aka butterfly weed) and how to create safe places for the monarch to lay their eggs. I am still taking it all in and trying to decide how far I will go with this cause.
It is raining today. Actually it is pouring. A deluge. Monsoon-ish. Not that I have ever actually been in a monsoon. At least I don’t think so.
Anyway, yesterday was my birthday and today it’s pouring outside and I thought it was a perfect time to write a rambling random post, the type of which is so very personally satisfying and sometimes worth reading.
I made it.
I really came close to understanding how precious that is yesterday. Nothing drastic happened to bring this thought upon me, it just popped into my head of its own accord. I made it to 52. I have lived 52 years despite all those million of reasons for me not to. It’s actually very humbling in a way. If you think of life as something you survive, then I have survived 52 years for no particular reason except that nothing fatal has happened to me.
Boy am I happy about that.
Every year I come closer to understanding what blessings and what baggage I am bringing with me through this life. My family, my genetic make-up, my choices in life, my relationships with other people…all these things enter my world by the day, the minute, the nano-second. I am probably not even aware of the majority of what I am carrying with me. Every day I seesaw between knowing how fortunate I am and struggling to live life to the fullest (whatever that means).
And yet, despite the struggles and the blessings, I am still here and remarkably very much like the ME that was here 20 or 30 years ago. Sure, parts of my body are a little lower than they used to be. Sure, I can’t remember, or see or hear shit anymore. Sure, my body is still trying to decide whether to let me enter full blown menopause. But I am mostly the same person. I have always had bouts of melancholia. Sometimes it takes over my life and sometimes it is just a mild hum in the background. I have always been relatively healthy physically. I have always struggled with acne and sore feet and other various aches and pains. I am a slightly better cook now, unless you ask my husband who can’t stand being in the kitchen when I prepare a meal. I still don’t like swimming or riding a bicycle very much and I can’t roller skate, rollerblade or ice skate to save my life. I am still a mediocre piano player and I LOVE to dance. Classical music, show tunes, Simon and Garfunkel are on my iPod instead of in my pile of albums. I still love Carroll Burnett, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman and anyone else who makes me laugh so hard I’m crying. I love writing, sculpting creating, golden retrievers, cats, sunrises, sunsets, walks on the beach…wait, this is starting to sound like an application for a dating service. You get the picture…
So what’s different? Knowledge I guess. Or the knowledge of what I don’t know. And there is so much I don’t know. I am also aware that there is a lot I will never know and never understand. And I’m good with that. I actually like my little corner of the world, my teeny portion of this universe. That’s not to say I don’t try to expand my knowledge, it’s just that I know that my knowledge is and always will be a finite entity. And sometimes what I think is knowledge is just rumor, theory or a good old-fashioned guess. As long as I am still around, I am going to gather knowledge…through experience, reading, thinking, talking, writing, creating, laughing…any way I can.
On another note, some of this post was inspired by the passing of Robin Williams yesterday. (Ahhhh, now you understand, right?) In order to live life to the fullest, sometimes you just have to live. Unfortunately, this can mean living with pain, in pain, through pain, constant pain. And that ain’t easy. I don’t blame him for wanting to end the pain. Only he knows how excruciating it was. There are no rule books for how to deal with a brain chemistry that is constantly wavering, constantly moving you from one place to another with no warning and no safety net. And there is nothing that anyone else can do to fix it.
I am honored to have witnessed his gifts and I am sad to have known about his pain. I wish he had found a way to continue to live with it.
But I can say I’m still here. For some reason, here I am.